Sample Chapter 3: Supervision within placement

The next sneak preview from ‘Innovations in Practice Learning‘ is taken from Chapter 3 entitled ‘Supervision within placement: Achieving best practice’ by Heidi Dix.

Students may find that they have a practice educator who is based within the agency and from whom they will receive weekly supervision. However, in other placements the practice educator is not based within the agency and an on-site practice super- visor will be appointed to provide day-to-day support and guidance. Students who have an on-site practice supervisor in addition to their practice educator may find that supervision will be given on alternate weeks by the practice educator and the on- site practice supervisor. The nature and content of supervision provided within these roles is slightly different. For example, supervision with an on-site practice supervisor could focus on the direct work the student is undertaking and have more of a man- agerial focus, for example, ensuring that the student is working within the agency’s eligibility criteria. However, supervision with a practice educator may have more of an educational and reflective focus, supporting the student to apply the knowledge they are learning in university and their self-directed learning to the work they are undertaking in placement.

Below are some comments from students in relation to the advantages and disadvantages of off-site and on-site models of practice education which I have heard over the years. Of course, these are generalisations and will not apply in all situations, but it is worth noting the strengths and limitations of both models. However, the most important thing is that the practice educator and practice supervisor work together to meet the learning needs of each individual student.

 

Advantages of having an off-site practice educator and on-site supervisor Disadvantages of having an off- site practice educator and on-site supervisor
‘If practice educators are not directly working within the agency they can provide greater objectivity and support students to question agency policy, procedures and practice.’ ‘Practice educators may not have direct practice experience in the area of social work that students are placed in.’
‘Off-site practice educators often bring experience from other areas of social work, enabling students to  compare and contrast their placement with other aspects of social work practice.’ ‘Off-site practice educators are often not available outside scheduled supervision times.’
‘Off-site practice educators, particularly those who work independently, will often support a number of students and will often provide group supervision which can be beneficial.’ ‘Contact with practice educators will be limited, particularly within the 70-day placement.’

 

Advantages of having an off-site practice educator and on-site supervisor Disadvantages of having an off-site practice educator and on-site supervisor
‘Practice educators will have direct practice experience of the work required within the agency.’ ‘Students can learn from different approaches and styles, eg “two heads are better than one.”’
‘They are often available for both formal and informal supervision,’ ‘Practice educators can be immersed in the culture of the agency and could be

adverse to the student asking questions that

demonstrate critical reflection.’

‘Supervision will be offered on a weekly basis with the same person.’ ‘Students will need to ensure there are opportunities to shadow other colleagues, not just their on-site practice educator.’

 

The majority of supervision students receive will be on a one-to-one basis, although there may be occasions when group supervision is used. Students often find this helpful as it enables them to share learning with other students in a practice setting and provides another form of support (Doel, 2010). However, one-to-one sessions are critically important in enabling a student to focus clearly and in depth on issues specific to their individual learning needs, particularly if a student has additional learning needs (see Chapter 8). There are also different expectations of students in their first and final placements as they build on the capabilities demonstrated in the first placement. Although students will still be offered guidance and support in their final placement, they should be given more autonomy as their confidence and ability increases. Students often find that their learning needs change as their confidence increases and consequently require different things from supervision. For example, in early supervision sessions, students may require support to develop their self- belief. However, as students develop in confidence, they may require less of this type of support and supervision could focus more on developing critical thinking skills.

An insight into what students can expect from their supervisors and practice educators

As adult learners, Rogers and Horrocks (2010) suggest that although we will have similar characteristics we also have differing needs depending on a range of factors. These include issues of diversity such as gender, ethnicity and class as well as the level of experience, skills and knowledge that students bring to the programme. Depending on our personality types (Rogers and Horrocks, 2010), the attachment experiences we have received in childhood (Howe et al, 1999) and whether we are operating from a secure base (Bowlby, 1973), we may require more or less support in particular areas of development. Therefore, as part of supervision sessions, students can expect their practice educators to ‘tune in’ (Taylor and Devine, 1993) to their needs to assist them to identify previous skills and experience in order to assist them appropriately. Research conducted with social work students by Lefevre (2005) suggested that stu- dent learning is enhanced when students feel listened to and respected by practice educators; therefore, developing a professional relationship to facilitate effective supervision is helpful to both parties. It is important that each party understands what is expected of the other and this needs to be clarified if there is any confusion.

There are many ways that we learn and take in information. Many of us prefer to have information presented to us visually, some of us find if we hear things we retain them better, others prefer to see things written down, and some of us learn best if we can move around and utilise our senses (Fleming, 1995). For some of us, experien- cing something and thinking about it afterwards is the best way that we learn (Kolb, 1984). There are a number of questionnaires that are available to help us under- stand our learning styles (Honey and Mumford, 1992; Fleming and Baume, 2006) and it may be helpful for students to complete one of these and share the results with their practice educator to enable them to tailor their support to help maximise the student’s learning. Although we often have a preferred way of learning, it is important that we have the ability to be receptive to new ways of understanding, because as practitioners we will often work with service users who will have a different way   of learning to ourselves. We may need to present information to service users in a way that best meets their needs; practice educators may model this by encouraging students to be flexible and to begin to adopt new ways of receiving and processing information.

 

Organisations have different policies in relation to the amount of supervision to which employees are entitled. Students may find themselves placed in organisations where supervision is not something that is routinely offered to employees or volunteers. However, qualified social workers employed by a local authority are entitled to regular and consistent supervision (LGA, 2014). As social work students, the frequency of supervision will be determined by the university and negotiated with the placement provider at a Learning Agreement Meeting. In addition to formal supervision sessions, students should be able to ‘check out’ any questions they have in between sessions by utilising the experience and knowledge of other practitioners within the organisation. If students believe they are not getting the length and quality of the supervision they are entitled to as a social work student, they should be encouraged to inform their university tutor who may need to revisit this with the placement provider or practice
educator as part of the Learning Agreement.

Click here to be taken to our website where you can purchase the full copy of ‘Innovations in Practice Learning’.

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GREAT EXPECTATIONS – WHAT DO MENTEES WANT FROM THEIR MENTORS AND THEIR SCHOOL?

Today we have a new blog post from one of our fantastic authors, Jonathan Gravells, author of Mentoring: Getting it Right in a Week. Here he explores what exactly mentees want from their mentors and their schools.

Agreeing clear expectations, at both and individual and school level, is one of the proven ingredients of successful mentoring. Here are some expectations that would come at the top of our list.

6 things you should expect from your mentor

  1. Credibility & competence – There are skills and knowledge associated with being a good mentor and you should expect your mentor to have taken the trouble to acquire these. Do they have to have more experience than you as a teacher? Well not necessarily, as plenty of successful peer mentoring partnerships can demonstrate. However, mentoring partnerships often benefit from mentors having different experience, as this enriches the learning.
  2. Willingness to learn – Competence does not mean your mentor knows it all. We can all get better at what we do and your mentor should role model this. Furthermore, in the best mentoring partnerships the mentor learns from exploring their mentee’s experiences too.
  3. Attention – Good listening is important of course, but great mentors do so much more than this. They give their full attention to their mentee, in an effort to really understand what motivates, frustrates or frightens them, and to find ways forward that will really suit them, rather than simply conform to some established formula or standard.
  4. Empathy – Because they have taken the trouble to really understand what makes you tick, great mentors will be able to put themselves in your shoes and realise why you respond to situations and events in a particular way. But they will also remain objective enough to help you question these responses.
  5. Challenge – So, empathy and supportiveness are key to good mentoring, but we also learn from having our assumptions and preconceptions challenged. The best mentors help us to tackle things we might not otherwise have had the confidence to address.
  6. Freedom to be your best self – Great mentors do not impose their strategies or recipes on you. They acknowledge that good teachers are not all stamped from the same mould, and the most successful ideas and improvements will be those that suit your personality and strengths.

6 things you should expect from your school

  1. Clear purpose for the mentoring – Unless your school is clear about what it wants to achieve from mentoring as an institution, then what kind of message is it sending mentors and mentees?
  2. Proper evaluation and improvement – Demonstrating the impact of mentoring, justifying the continued investment of time and money on this aspect of continuing professional development, and finding ways of making it work even better will reinforce everyone’s commitment to the process.
  3. Proper training and ongoing support – As the recent National Standards for ITT mentors rightly point out, mentors (and I would argue mentees) need not just adequate initial training in the skills and techniques of mentoring, but processes to ensure continued improvements in practice.
  4. Time – Unless schools find ways of allocating sufficient time to mentoring as part of staff development, the evidence suggests mentors and mentees will struggle to maintain commitment to the process.
  5. A positive environment – Another crucial observation from the National Standards is that mentoring can only thrive in the right environment. This means a sensible separation from performance assessment and monitoring , demonstrable support from the top, and respecting the need for mentoring to take place within a safe space.
  6. Agreed definition and ground rules – This positive environment will benefit significantly from clarity around mentoring roles and responsibilities and the basic ground rules governing these learning conversations.

Jonathan Gravells, Director of Fargo Associates, January 2017

If this blog post interests you, why not look a bit further? Details of Jonathan’s Mentoring: Getting it Right in a Week can be found on the Critical Publishing website. In addition, why not have a look at the other titles in the In a Week series; Lesson Planning: Getting it Right in a Week by Keith and Nancy Appleyard and Behaviour Management: Getting it Right in a Week by Susan Wallace.

If you have any questions, you can reach me at keisha@criticalpublishing.com – as always, we would love to hear from you!

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The Personal Tutor Self-assessment System

Good Morning people!

Today I have some great news- the authors of our book ‘Becoming an Outstanding Personal Tutor‘ have put together a FREE resource for you to use!

Becoming an Outstanding Personal Tutor-Front

A bit about the book

Personal tutoring and mentoring is often referred to as the support side of the teachers’ role. This text is therefore vital in ensuring outstanding practice in that field. Given the new Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare Ofsted inspection grade, this is a subject that is especially relevant to teachers in the current climate.

The book is relevant to any pre-service or in-service trainee teacher or existing practitioner with a personal tutoring role, a specialised personal tutor, manager or anyone in a learner-facing role within further education.

About the FREE resource

Ben Walker and Andrew Stork have created these two documents to allow their readers to continually self-assess their own practice and that of their institution. You can access these documents by clicking the links below.

Individual Self-assessment Form

Institutional Self-assessment Form

 

** Ben and Andy‘s book is NOW only £17 on our website– where everything is 15% off till the end of April…

So don’t miss out some great deals!

Meet Emily!

TGIF! The end of the week is finally here (hurray!) and with that is our last extract from Ben Walker‘s and Andrew Stork‘s new book ‘Becoming an Outstanding Personal Tutor’. This extract is especially exciting because it demonstrates just how interactive the text is! So have a read, enjoy and without further ado, meet Emily!

Pg. 106: CASE STUDY, Supporting Emily

A support manager has received a safeguarding file about one of your learners, Emily, from the school she attended prior to college, and has suggested you read it. Below is an extract from a report in the file.

15 July

From Chris Wilkins, Head of Year 12, Shotley Park Secondary School

Emily was removed from the care of her birth parents at the age of nine. This was as a result of reported abuse and neglect. She has been in foster care since that time. There were behavioural problems at school resulting in an exclusion from her previous school. Emily has difficulty with authority figures and in taking responsibility for her actions. Emily’s emotional state can be unpredictable and she can overreact to situations if feeling threatened or overly pressured. The educational psychologist’s report suggested Emily has a younger emotional age than her 15 years nine months. Academically, Emily excels at certain focused tasks, more on the practical side.  Socially, Emily can find it  difficult to mix with new peers and tends to form separate groups, which can be with learners who are a ‘bad influence’.

Critical thinking activity 7

Read the case study extract and then answer the following.

  1. What are the key points for your role and how will it inform your support of Emily?
  2. How do you think other members of staff should be involved and what would you tell other members of staff about?

Discussion

Safeguarding reports come in a mixture of formats. They can be divided up under topic headings or dates or as continuous writing, as in our example. They may stick to facts or make suggestions about approach. There is a need for you to pick out the key points, and it could be good practice to do this with a support manager.

Complex case

At first, it can be easy to be daunted by cases like Emily and not knowing where to start. However, you need to remember that all learners, whether they have complex backgrounds and needs or not, all react differently. There’s also a need to not let such information unduly influence your view of an individual. Their past experiences may not adversely affect them in a new environment in which they may, hopefully, thrive. You need to avoid putting this in danger by ‘overcompensating’, and you should strike a balance between being aware of the issues, adapting your approach appropriately and seeing a learner like Emily with fresh eyes and giving her the same opportunity as any others.

Foster care

A good starting point would be to contact those who know her best, her foster parents, about support and approach.

Unpredictable emotional states

Communication with additional support is necessary. Receiving direct support relies on Emily’s consent, but strategies such as a ‘time out card’ and ‘cooling off period’ would seem to be relevant here.

Difficulty with authority figures and taking responsibility

As we have seen, your positive approach is about the young person understanding and investing in the process of improvement rather than dictating this to them. With Emily, your one-to-ones or PLCs will be important in reinforcing this. Since you are up against a history of resistance, you should not get disheartened if progress is slow and change is incremental.

Academically, Emily excels at certain focused tasks

You need to reinforce the positive with Emily and link that to positive feelings and beliefs in one-to-one meetings and conversations. ‘How can you do more of this?’ is the key reinforcing question to use with Emily when emphasising these positives.

Involving other members of staff

There is not a need to give the specific background details to other staff who teach Emily, for example the details of the abuse suffered. As we have seen though, you can take an advisory role for other teachers regarding teaching and group strategies for Emily and adapting your own group tutorial in a similar way. Additional support staff can aid her. There is a similarity to the additional support issues of the last section: considered communication is everything. Action plans can be drawn up, with additional support and possibly involving yourself, and ideally kept on the electronic learner tracking and monitoring system. This can, in turn, inform disciplinary meetings (where it is not to be used as an excuse for poor behaviour but rather to inform and be taken into account).

A final thought on safeguarding

Finally, these can be emotionally draining issues and you need to make sure you look after yourself. Structured offloading, where you talk about your most complex cases, can be very important in reducing the likelihood of taking your worries about these issues home with you, and to reassure you that you are doing the right things and all that you can.

Summary

The personal tutor role can feel all-encompassing, and a dizzying feeling can come from the sense that almost everything in your institution is of relevance to it. Moreover, when we start, not only do we not necessarily know the answers to the questions but we may not know what questions to ask in the first place! This chapter has, hopefully, addressed both of these issues by informing you:

  • which the key procedures for the personal tutor are;
  • what the procedures are and a good practice model for each;
  • how you and others need to operate within the procedures most effectively.

Moreover, you should now have the terminology in order to further understand and enquire about how things work in your institution.

If you want to be outstanding in the role and have ambitions to progress, you need to be a constructive enquirer of those around you including those in more senior roles. You’ll need the appropriate knowledge and language to do this. There will be more on the higher-level support skills to become outstanding in the next five chapters where we also discuss the bigger picture enquiries needed when you’re aiming to be outstanding.

We were feeling generous so that’s a slightly longer extract for you. Go to our website to buy the book and to check out what other texts are right for you!

Planning the Perfect Lesson

Good morning and welcome! Enjoy our next extract from ‘Becoming an Outstanding Tutor’ which includes a checklist on planning a positively perfect lesson.

pg 71, Critical thinking activity 10

The following short checklist of points (adapted from an article by David Didau, entitled ‘Planning a “Perfect” Lesson’ (Didau, 2012, online)) can contribute to delivering effective and engaging teaching, learning and assessment. Using this checklist, identify the similarities and differences between what you believe is good curriculum lesson delivery and good group tutorial delivery.

Page-71-table

Please don’t hesitate to go to our website and stay tuned for the last extract entry tomorrow!

What is a Personal Tutor?

So it’s a Wednesday afternoon and time for our third exclusive from Ben Walker and Andrew Stork‘s new book ‘Becoming an Outside Personal Tutor’. Enjoy and keep watching this space for more extracts throughout the week.

p.9: The definition of the personal tutor

Here, we define the personal tutor. But remember, in this book we shall explore what it means to be an outstanding personal tutor.

The personal tutor is one who improves the intellectual and academic ability, and nurtures the emotional well-being, of learners through individualised, holistic support.

What constitutes emotional well-being is discussed later in the book.

In addition to this definition, we want to bring in the highly important and valuable element of coaching. Personal tutoring and coaching can be seen as separate, but the model of the outstanding personal tutor includes coaching elements within it.

For more information, please visit our website. See you all tomorrow!